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‘Jew’ is the new ‘cool’ in Dutch, linguist says

ByJTA
January 15, 2013 15:21

Teenagers use the word "jood" as an expression of enthusiasm; Dutch also use Yiddish word "tof" as "good."

Jewish gay participants cruises canals in Holland.

Jews on a boat in Amsterdam 370. (photo credit:REUTERS/Michael Kooren)

THE HAGUE - Dutch teenagers are using “Jew” akin to “cool” or “awesome” in English, according to a linguist from Leiden University.

Professor Marc van Oostendorp wrote Monday on his blog that he heard the new usage of the word “jood” (pronounced yode) at a high school in Leiden shortly after learning about the phenomenon from an online forum about the Dutch language.



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“One is at first unsettled by it. The word Jew is still a slightly sensitive issue if used improperly,” van Oostendorp wrote, adding an example of how soccer fans use it as a pejorative.

Van Oostendorp notes that Dutch already has one positive exclamation connected to Judaism in “tof,” which was borrowed from Yiddish and means “good,” but he writes that “it’s not clear if those two are connected. I don’t believe too many people are aware of the etymology.”

He notes that “the ideal word to express teenage enthusiasm would make parents raise their eyebrows” but would not invoke disciplinary intervention.

“The word ‘Jew’ is apparently suitable in that regard,” van Oostendorp wrote.
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  • yiddish
  • netherlands
  • Dutch
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